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“Why is life on earth still taking second place to fossil fuel companies,” asks George Monbiot in an August 2021 opinion piece in The Guardian. Humanity faces an unprecedented existential threat, a looming climate crisis that will make the current COVID pandemic seem quite tame in comparison. And yet, “scarcely anyone alters their behaviour in response: above all, their driving, flying and consumption of meat and dairy,” writes Monbiot.

Climate is Always Second Place To Fossil Fuels, Below2C

“The human tragedy is that there is no connection between what we know and what we do…we need to close the gap between knowing and doing.” — George Monbiot

According to a recent analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) not a single G20 member has a climate plan that is aligned with the Paris Agreement. The CAT analysis looked at 36 countries and the EU which together make up 80% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Climate Second, Fossils First

Even countries like the UK, which considers itself climate progressive, continues to flounder by having climate policies that are incompatible with preventing a warming greater than 1.5°C. In a few weeks (November 1-12) Boris Johnson will be hosting COP26 in Glasgow. This climate summit is deemed to be the most consequential since COP21 which culminated in the signing of the Paris Agreement. But rather than leading by example, Johnson is poised to approve the expansion of oil and gas in the North Sea in spite of warnings from the EPA that the world must not only freeze all new fossil fuel projects but also must retire existing projects as well. In the UK, it’s still climate second, fossils first.

“Those who promise low deliver lower.” — George Monbiot

Meanwhile in Canada, electors get to choose their next government tomorrow. Many observers note that the Liberal climate plan is the best of the four main political parties. However, the plan includes the ongoing expansion of fossil fuels and the construction of the massively expensive—purchased by the government in 2018—Trans Mountain pipeline. In Canada, it’s always climate second, fossils first.

During the U.S. presidential campaign, Joe Biden unveiled a bold plan to tackle climate change which he labelled an ‘existential threat’. And it started so well for President Biden. He immediately issued executive orders that revived the cancellation of Keystone XL and restored U.S. membership in the Paris accord.

But just months later, when the rubber hit the road, many climate promises fell victim to the usual gridlock of American politics. Both the American Jobs Plan and the bipartisan  Infrastructure Bill were severely watered down resulting in a largely business-as-usual formula to tackling the climate crisis. The result will be expanding highway investments, substantial cuts in new public transit, increases in carbon capture technology investments and substantial cuts in projected renewable energy spending. In the U.S., it’s climate second, fossils first.

What about the post-pandemic green recovery?

The green recovery promised by governments around the world is under severe threat. It was likely never meant to happen. Yale Environment 360 reports that “oil and gas giants, mining interests, and coal-fired power plants have all received financial and regulatory relief as governments around the world enact pandemic recovery plans. These moves threaten to create a dirty, high-carbon legacy that long outlasts the current crisis.”

Carbon Tracker

The Energy Policy Tracker provides an overview of pandemic recovery packages by countries. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, G20 countries have committed $660.89 billion (USD) for different energy types. While the commitment of $229.71 billion in support of clean energy is laudable, these same countries also committed $297.50 billion to fossil fuels:

  • $219.13 billion to oil and gas
  • $46.5 billion to coal
  • 11.19 billion to hydrogen from fossil fuels
  • $19.57 billion to multiple fossil fuels

World leaders know exactly what they must do. The climate science is clear and yet, for the most part, climate policy is not tailored to the scientific advice and the evidence on the ground. Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is not optional, it’s life-or-death imperative.

“The global emergency requires a new politics, but it is nowhere in sight…no government, even the most progressive, is yet prepared to contemplate the transformation we need: a global programme that places the survival of humanity and the rest of life on Earth above all other issues.” —  George Monbiot

ICYMI:
Two Fatal Flaws with Net-Zero By 2050: Net-Zero and By 2050
We Need A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License


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1 COMMENT

  1. Clean Electricity in Just Eight Years for Free
    Will Double Fresh Water Supplies

    The UK Conservative Government gives £10.5 billion in subsidies from our taxes to fossil fuel companies each year, which equates to £16,153,846 per constituency. With an average of 70,530 constituents in each constituency this works out as £229 generously donated by our caring government per person which leads to more CO2 and more pollution.

    The project cost of a 3.5 MW Enercon E126 EP 3 wind turbine costs £3.13 million, and if the subsidies were diverted to renewables we could have an extra wind farm of 5.16 wind turbines in every constituency every year, generating 18.06 MW per hour per year. 34.82 MW per hour is used by the average person in the UK per year, so our wind turbines would provide clean electricity to 8,766‬ more people in every constituency every year, in eight years every constituency would have clean electricity provided locally. As nuclear and fossil fuel turbine generators use 50% of our fresh water in the process of generating electricity having such a policy will also double fresh water sources, that are being increasingly stretched by global weirding. Think Green. Think Clean.

    Recently lies have been permeating that wind turbines do not generate enough volts for heavy industry so we will have to keep fossil fuel power stations. This is not true, for example, offshore wind turbines generate electricity at 230 volts, an offshore transformer boosts this to 220,000 volts, which is boosted to 400,000 volts with an onshore supergrid transformer; this is the highest voltage you get in the UK.

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